Sunday, June 26, 2016
I found this drink at the local Sobeys grocery store for $1.69. The regular price was $2.99, but there was a sale going on.
You'd be right to label this as another Red Bull clone, because not only does it scream clone from the outside, it is almost a clone on the inside as well...like 75% on the inside. Sure, there is no taurine and the color is paler than the regular Red Bull, but the smell and taste are almost bang on. I say 75%, because the sweetness feels rounder, is dialled down a notch, there is a citric bite at the end and an interesting creamy-like start...but the base flavor is definitely that of a Red Bull.
Yup, there are 80 mg of caffeine in this can and the effects are the same as a can of Red Bull. You chug it, the sugar quickly hits you, you get jittery for a bit, then the caffeine make you overenergized and an hour and a half later you feel about the same as before you had the drink.
Cost - $1.69
Taste - 8.5/10 (still love the taste, though)
Energy - 6/10
Overall - 14.5/20...still love the taste
Friday, June 17, 2016
I was visiting Windsor last week and went to Anchor Coffee House, a highly recommended coffee shop on the west end. Aside from the easy to miss sign that blended with the rest of the building, the coffee shop was like an oasis in a sea of boring, identical commercial buildings. I tried a couple of coffees there and decided to get a cold brew for the road and for a review. If I remember correctly, the bottles were $5.
The coffee is very clear and not too dark. In fact it is more dark amber than black. The aroma is heavy on the coffee, but also features other notes like roasted nuts and sweet dried fruits.
The flavor is mellow at first, but the coffee hits as it travels down the tongue. Subtle notes of sweet dried fruits (yes, some sweetness is present), chocolate and roasted nuts are present, but don't last too long. The finish is surprisingly clean for a coffee, but traces of coffee do linger. Very easy and enjoyable to drink without any of the acids and a lot less of the bitterness hot brewed coffees have.
It doesn't say how much caffeine is in here, but if it is anything like the cold brews I have made, then it is a ton! I was feeling it very energetic within 20-30 minutes of consuming the bottle. While I was drinking it, I felt focused for a bit until the caffeine kicked into overdrive and I was ready to fly off. That made for fast paced walk to work in the morning. The kick lasted for almost 4 hours and ended without drama.
Cost - $5
Taste - 9/10
Energy - 9/10
Overall - 18/20...flavorful and easy to drink, great alternative to regular coffee in the summer
Friday, June 10, 2016
New, from Red Bull and right in time for the summer - this green Red Bull can that I walked by multiple times in gas stations and convenience stores. From what I read, The Summer Edition has been out for a few weeks, but because the color is so close to the lime can they released last year, I didn't see it until now.
Red Bull should really work on their design. In a semi-illuminated fridge full of energy drinks, this green looks just slightly different from the other green. Unless the fridge is empty, or very brightly illuminated, it would be hard to distinguish the two. I know the label is a dead giveaway, but I usually just glance at energy drinks. I don't read the labels until I know there is a new drink somewhere.
The interesting thing is that the liquid inside the can has a hue that is very similar to the green on the can - light kiwi green. The energy drink smells like a medley of gummy bears and of nothing specific. The taste? Same. Don't get me wrong, I love this blend of mysterious flavors, but I had a hard time putting my finger on what exactly it was. I knew there had to be kiwi in there somewhere, but I couldn't pick it out. I know what kiwi tastes like. I am staring at a bowl of them to my right. I eat them almost daily and this does not taste like a straight up kiwi. Even if there was kiwi in here, it is masked by a ton of other flavors. I detect a blend of tropical fruits, some forest fruits, maybe some kiwi, some other stuff, and a twist of the good ol' Red Bull.
Despite this, I LOVE this flavor. I don't know what it is, but the blend of everything just kinda works.
If you can read the label (light green background with reflective silver text? Try reading that in the sunlight without squinting.), you will note that there are 114 mg of caffeine...a standard for 355 mL cans.
The effects are like any other Red Bull - sugary jitters kicking in quickly, followed by a burst of energy in 20-30 minutes that keeps you going for a couple of hours, followed by a semi-crash thanks to the sugar. I had this first thing in the morning and did not experience a severe crash, but try having it later in the day to see what happens.
Cost - $3.49
Taste - 8.9/10
Energy - 7/10
Overall - 15.9/20...interesting medley of flavors without much of the kiwi
Saturday, April 30, 2016
How I envy those in the US. You guys have access to V8 energy drinks literally everywhere. And all the flavors!!! And so cheap! I like V8 energy drinks so much that I have a standing order with anyone travelling south of the border to get me at least a 6 pack...preferably several.
This new V8 I picked up has an incredible aroma pineapple, carrot, apple, orange, tea aroma that keeps unveiling a new scent each time you stick your nose in it. It was so hard safeguarding a can of this stuff for a review.
The flavor is unreal! There is pineapple and sweet carrots at the start (the carrots are fairly mild and they boost the flavor) and mildly tart orange and tea at the end towards the finish. The aftertaste does have a very slight artificial sweetener-like note to it, but it also has traces of mild green tea and pineapple. The blend of flavors creates for such a mild, lingering and enjoyable finish that you just want to keep drinking it.
There are 80 mg of caffeine and the effects are like any other V8 - not too jittery, followed by a brief period of calmness and focus, followed by 1.5-2 hour long caffeine kick without the crash.
Cost - $5.99 for a 6 pack
Taste - 9.5/10
Energy - 6/10
Overall - 15.5/20...fresh, enjoyable, smooth, delicious
Sunday, April 17, 2016
OK, this is super confusing. About a year ago Red Bull released The Orange Edition, which looks almost identical, except for the inverted label. Well, if you look closely, you will see that this new one has the word "Tangerine" for the flavor on the front, instead of "Orange", and lacks the words "Sugar Free". Yeah, you guessed it - this one is the sugary version of the one released last year. Very odd since usually companies do it the other way around.
Oddly, this Orange Edition has the same dark yellow color as the regular Red Bull but has a very sweet, candy-like sweet mandarin aroma. The heavy carbonation prevents you from tasting much at first, but once it settles, you are greeted by a delicious, well rounded sweet tangerine flavor that morphs into a lingering candy-like/Jolly Rancher-like note that sticks to your tongue. I liked it at first, but a few sips later the sweetness started building up too much, but I just couldn't stop drinking because the carbonation and sour bite at the start of each sip washed it all away...only for it to intensify later.
Well, I liked it, but I still prefer the original syrupy taste. There is something about that delicious concoction of chemicals that I enjoy.
The can contains the standard 80 mg of caffeine and if you ever had a can of Red Bull, this one works the exact same way. It is like they use the same basic ingredients or something. /sarcasm
Cost - $3.19 from Shoppers Drug Mart
Taste - 7.8/10
Energy - 6/10
Overall - 13.8/20...a bit sweet
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Teas are giving coffee a run for its money these days. Natural Warrior is the latest offering of high octane teas that pack a punch and thanks to the good folks over there, I got to sample the most caffeinated ones.
When I heard the name Guayusa, I automatically assumed that this is a type of green tea that comes from the same bush as all others, just picked at the right time for maximum caffeine concentration.
I was wrong. Guayusa actually comes from a tree from the Amazon Rainforest. Both species and location were completely off. Can't say that I feel very proud, but I learned something.
This tea needs to be brewed for 5 to 6 minutes and makes a brown-ish tea that looks a lot like a cup of black tea. The Guayusa has a surprisingly mellow flavor that doesn't quite hit you until just before the finish. At times the flavor reminded me of that of a Pu-erh tea with its musky and earthy tones...except turned down a notch. The finish was surprisingly dry and clean which made me want to finish my cup of tea. But with the tea done, I had to grab a bit of water.
Very interesting and enjoyable flavor. Completely different from what I was expecting and it is safe to say that I was very pleasantly surprised.
The Yerba Mate is recommended to be brewed between 5 and 10 minutes depending on your strength preference. I went for the middle and timed 7 minutes. After 7 minutes I had a green-ish looking tea that quickly started to oxidize with the leaves removed. By the time I sat down with it, it was brown.
The Mate has an earthier and more intense aroma and flavor. I wish I had more tea to see how the brewing times would affect the flavor, but I can tell you that at 7 minutes, you get a pretty strong flavor. It is hard to describe Mate if you haven't had it and the descriptors that I often use sound disgusting, but in reality, Mate is delicious. So when I say that this has wet moss/ground and damp cellar flavor, I really mean that it has a very intense earthy notes. Don't be revolted. This is just the type of tea.
Surprisingly, the Mate is not bitter at all. It is much mellower than many other Mates I have had in the past. The earthy tones sneak around the back of your mouth and turn slightly acidic, giving you a dry and semi-clean finish. Some traces of the earthiness can be noted in the aftertaste, but overall, it is quite clean.
The Guayusa has the highest caffeine content of the Natural Warrior teas with about 80 mg per cup. The Yerba Mate is a close second with a concentration of 50 to 78 mg per cup. Of course this is if you follow the recommended brewing technique. If you want to, you can use more loose leaf tea for more caffeine. I increased the Yerba Mate concentration just a bit to make it similar to the Guayusa for an easier comparison of the effects.
The effects of both are felt within 10 minutes. As I was sitting in front of the computer at 6:00 am on Monday morning, I started to slowly feel a very familiar caffeine buzz slowly picking up pace through my body. The buzz at first is strong and almost gives you jitters. But after a few moments, it disappears and your mind focuses on the task at hand. I was writing for work and I felt very focused and calm for about 20-30 minutes. There were no jitters or any other ill side effects that were affecting me. I was just in the zone for that brief time period.
After the period of focus, the caffeine was fully absorbed and the focus started to be replaced by a a very energetic physical feel. I was ready to present, talk and get stuff done at work at that point.
The effects of both teas lasted for just over an hour after that, giving you almost 2 hours of focus and energy per cup. I felt no ill side effects, like a crash, at the end of the hour.
Overall, Natural Warrior teas taste and perform great! I love the earthy flavor and the focused effects. If you are seeking a coffee replacement, these may be the teas for you.
Cost - $25 for 60 grams
Taste - 9.5/10 (same score for both)
Energy - 6.5/10 to 10/10 depending on concentration
Overall - 16/20 to 19.5/20...earthy, bold, with a great kick
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
If you haven't seen Boylan's sodas then you must be blind. These sodas are literally everywhere and are quickly taking over Jones shelf space. I got a batch of these to review courtesy of the good folks at Pacific Bottleworks and I am so very grateful.
Boylan's Sparkling Cider is a limited release, so get yourself a bottle right now if you are a fan of Boylan and ciders.
This sparkling cider has a bold apple aroma with notes of both sweet and sour apples, and just a tiny bit of caramel. The soda is not as carbonated as I expected it and starts off with a rounded, creamy mouth-feel bringing the caramel and sweet apple notes to the taste buds. The sour apples come in after and tend to stick to the back of the tongue. The sweetness suppresses most of the sourness and results in an interesting cola-like twist at the finish, which also carries some of the creamy character of the start of the drink. Very interesting and satisfying soda.
Taste - 9.0/10
Coming from Europe, we do love our birch products. I grew up with birch juice and was happy when it started becoming popular here at places like Shoppers. I have also had alcoholic birch beer, but I have never had birch soda drinks before.
Boylan takes a slightly different approach with birch beer. The birch flavors come from birch oils, which are dark and give the soda its dark, cola-like color. The soda has a sharp anise aroma with hints of vanilla and caramel and something that reminds me of the basic Crest toothpaste. The taste carries the same notes, but it is much softer than the aroma. The anise much less pronounced and you get a subtle influx of earthier notes and some of that familiar, but hard to explain Crest toothpaste hint...could be a blend of mint and anise. The vanilla, caramel and mint-like notes come out near the finish and form the aftertaste.
I would compare this to an intense root beer with a touch of anise and mint. Very interesting and rather enjoyable.
Taste - 8.8/10
This is a staple flavor that is rather hard to pull off if you want to skimp on the depth and complexity of it. Boylan's orange flavor does come through, though. The aroma has a strong orange and tangerine peel bouquet while the flavor has multiple layers. It starts off with a mild candy-like orange, followed by a sweet tangerine, which takes you all the way to the end. I must admit that this is a little too sweet for my liking, but that cane sugar really rounds off the corners. There doesn't seem to be any harshness as you would get from a high fructose corn and I do like the tangerine finish. It helps round off the end.
To try something different, I diluted the last bit of this soda and it was absolutely awesome. The sweetness was cut down a bit, but the flavors remained there.
Taste - 8/10...it is sweet
Not the biggest fan of straight up cream sodas, but the deep golden color really intrigued me about this one. This creme soda has a very warm and inviting aroma that reminds me of sweet glazed donuts, vanilla and caramel. The flavor is sweet and comes at you head on with the sugary goodness of a dozen glazed donuts, followed by a sprinkling of vanilla. The finish reveals a combination of caramel and butterscotch which reminds me of Werther's candies, but damn is this sweet...oh well, at least it has cane sugar which gives the soda a very round, smooth sweetness.
Taste - 8.1/10
This root beer has an aroma that is very similar to the Birch Beer but with a touch more sweetness and spice. The taste is also very similar at first, but give it a few moments and the flavor starts to diverge. Vanilla and caramel will stay behind with a very minimal anise hint and a very round sweetness profile thanks to the cane sugar. The aftertaste is an interesting blend of candy cola-like and root beer-like flavors.
Man, I am sold on cane sugar. Love how it rounds off the flavors in all of these sodas.
Taste - 9/10